The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling-Lunch 4/24 - Tianshan Dai

Speaker: Tianshan Dai (Shenzhen Polytechnic University)
Title: The Taoist Perspective of Chomsky’s Philosophy of Language
Date/Time: Thursday, Apr 24, 12:30-1:45p
Location: 32-D461

In this talk, I will discuss and interpret some of the lines from Chuang Tzu’s writings about the nature of language, children’s acquisition of language, language’s communicative function and meaning, etc. I compare Chuang Tzu’s Taoist philosophy of language with that of Chomsky, pointing out many striking similarities between the two, which shed light on both historical traditions between the east and the west. I conclude in the talk that the Plato’s problem or the Descartes’ problem in the west could be appropriately labeled Chuang Tzu’s problem in the east, and the development of generative linguistics can serve as a modern interpretation of Chuang Tzu’s Taoist philosophy of language.